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      IMPORTANT Registration rules   02/12/2017

      Use your real name or you will NOT get in.  No aliases or nicknames, no numerals in your name. Do not use the words knives, blades, swords, forge, smith (unless that is your name of course) etc. We are all bladesmiths and knifemakers here.  If you feel you need an exception or are having difficulty registering, send a personal email to the forum registrar here.  
VernonCooney

New guy who is a bow maker too

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I am a bow maker who makes osage orange native short bows by hand as I love the physical work. Looks like I feel the same about knives but I need advice as the filing seems even to me like a ton of work.

I plan to make a forge with firebricks and a propane torch and with my railway track anvil to start with with 1084,1095 or 01 tool steel. Ok so far? But the next step I need to know, would a belt grinder be required if I forge my knives? Stock removal does not seem like my thing yet and I see a belt grinder would be almost a necessity for that.

I plan to heat treat as well with the forge.

Lastly as a belt grinder is $$$$$$ is there any other viable substitute fot it in the shorter term ie regular grinder?

Thanks

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Start with 1080 or 1084 (most forgiving/ easiest to heat treat), and get a few good files. Many makers use just files and sandpaper. An angle grinder is probably the absolute best entry-level tool for speeding things up (on the cheap), as it can be fitted with a cut-off wheel and do a large amount of bulk shaping. Welcome, and have fun. Alternatively, leave now before you really get hooked! B)

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Second what Jerrod said. The small grinders can be useful, but reach thier limits pretty quickly. I've never been dissapointed with my angle grinder though.

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I agree with the abvove statements and at the time of writing this have only files and an angle grinder myself. I am close to purchasing a grinder now but feel like the work I have done with the file has been invaluable experience. As long as you properly anneal your work you can easily fike 90% of work

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My first forged knife was made in a hardwood fire using an oak stump anvil, then filed to shape. I do find my angle grinder incredibly useful for all kinds of stuff.

One thing I learned pretty quickly in this craft is that there are about five and a half million ways to make a knife, and many of them don't involve power tools.

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I third the motion on the Angle grinder.

Buy a good one, dont buy a cheap one, I made that mistake, I have a PILE of cheapo harbor freight angle grinders in my garage that died for one reason or another, One of these days im going to rip them apart for the copper windings.

On the other hand, I also have the 1x30 Belt grinder from Harbor Freight, I think I paid 30 bucks for it, and its still running strong even after 2 years of this, Its not great by any means, but it works. Besides my hammer, its the most used tool in the shop. And belts are fairly cheap for it even if they dont last long.

Now lets see some pics of the Bows you make, I have always wanted to try my hand at carving a recurve bow.

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Now lets see some pics of the Bows you make, I have always wanted to try my hand at carving a recurve bow.

 

I should have said this in my first post, too. I'm sure you'll find that there are plenty of people on the forum that love bows and archery in general.

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Thanks guys for the advice.

If I only forge my own with say 1084 steel would it be easier than with stock removal to file by hand and avoid machinery all together?

I only mention I am a bow maker to explain that I like rustic primative one of a kind outcomes with physical work being the cornerstone. However to not take up space on this site check me out on YouTube under "vfc archery" and subscribe if you wish.

Thanks again🏹🔪

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You can certainly do everything you would use a grinder for with a file, it just takes a little longer. Some actually prefer the zen like feel of filing over the noise and sparks of grinding. Good files used properly can be surprisingly fast at removing material.

 

It would also create some discipline to forge closer to shape, which isn't a bad thing at all.

 

I've dabbled with bow making a bit. I'll have to check out your channel!

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Hiya and welcome!

 

I have only made one bow myself... but knives are where it's at for me.

yeah.... grinding is faster, but it doesn't teach the flats or angels easily. I would suggest getting stock very close to the size you need, or a little under. I have found many people when starting knife making overthink how big the piece needs to be.

Then again.... this is my two cents.

I look forward to seeing what you make!

-Gabriel

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Welcome aboard! I did knives and tomahawks with only a forge, angle grinder, and files for about eight years before I got a belt grinder. Ten or eleven years later I still use files as my primary tool for tomahawks and swords. So yes, it is doable. B) And it doesn't take as long as you'd think if you have the right (big!) files. A grinder just lets you screw things up MUCH faster if you aren't in practice. For example: A totally hand-done hawk using the angle grinder for initial scale removal and profile cleanup followed by files takes me about two days. Using the belt grinder for cleanup and profiling cuts that down to one day. On a big sword or knife that might change to a week by hand, two days with a belt grinder. If you do self bows out of osage with hand tools you can certainly knock out a knife quickly and easily, it's all about the files you choose. Did I mention big? ;)

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You know that knives and other cutting implements were made with files and other scraping tools long before grinders were invented. Look up draw filing and then get the largest bastard file that you can find and refine the bevels and the outline of the blade that you have roughed out with your hammer on your anvil. Work you way down through finer toothed files and then to sand paper until you get to the finish that you want.

 

Doug

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As a bowyer, a lot of your skills and knowledge will transfer to blades.

 

Draw filing bevels is, in many ways, similar to tillering a bow. Symmetry, aesthetic, balance born of patience, eye, and feel.

 

I would second all of what's been said above...

 

Get a piece of 1080 or 1084 close to finished size, normalize it, lay out your blade, grind or file the profile, bevel the blade, heat-treat.

 

Keep you ambition in check. Do several small knives to get the feel (faster, and requires less steel). Don't over stress yourself. Do your best, the do the next one better.

 

Jim Hamm said in one of his bow books that what you can screw up in 10 minutes with a hand tool you can screw up in 10 seconds with a power tool. This applies to blades as well.

 

But you might want to turn back while you can. I don't build & shoot bows nearly as much since I entered the Iron Age.

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Do you have any experience forging?

 

I ask, because if I had answered the above question as I normally would have, you would think me a smart @$$.

 

My answer would have been "at forging heat". This is something most judge by eye, instinct, and experience.

 

If you are in fact new at it, you need to get your forge up and running and see what you can do with some scrap.

 

Get some mild and learn how to control heat and how to effectively move metal. If you have a hot forge, you will most likely burn some steel. Better a piece of scrap that a good piece of 1084. You can ruin it by getting it too hot; you can ruin it by hitting it too cold. These are things not easily communicated online, so study and experimentation are what you need right now.

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My plan is to build a gas forge using fire bricks and a high powered MAP trigger torch BernsOmatic TS8000. Does this seem reasonable for making small knifes 6 to 8 inches in total length 😊 or should I require an Atlas mini gas forge😩?

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If you have the space for it, you might want to consider going the charcoal route, at least at first while you decide how you like the work, as all you would need is some piping, some brick, an air source, and the charcoal to complete the forge.

Not to say a gas forge isnt a great idea, but why shell out a few hundred dollars for a gas forge, when you can piece a charcoal one together in a day for less then 50 bucks including fuel.

just a thought,

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Welcome! I made bows many years ago too. Mostly laminates though, never found any osage orange I could use around here.

 

I never really got much use out of small torch forges, but you can do normalizing and austenitizing on small blades with one. You can do nearly anything in a charcoal forge, including burning and melting steel if you're not careful. Charcoal heats steel up FAST. No briquettes; hardwood lump charcoal.

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